Violence against women is a prevalent and well-documented social problem in Canada. A 2005 Statistics Canada profile on family violence prepared by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization are the most recent reports available that track family violence, including the incidence, prevalence and severity of woman abuse in Canada. These resources are the source for most of the statistics given below. The statistics are also categorized according to the pervasiveness of woman abuse in our society by: age (younger women 18-24) or women over 65, aboriginal women, immigrant or refugee women, and abuse during pregnancy.
- Consider these statistics on Canadian women who reported on violence in a current or previous spousal relationship in the past five years (n = 653,000) (see note 1):
- 81% reported having been pushed, shoved or grabbed;
- 61% were threatened to be hit;
- 44% reported having something thrown at them;
- 38% were beaten or choked;
- 36% were slapped;
- 27% were kicked, hit or bit; and
- 16% were sexually assaulted (see note 2)
- Emotional and financial abuse often accompany physical and sexual violence in either a current or previous relationship. 37% of women in a current or previous spousal relationship reporting on physical violence in the past five years also experienced some form of emotional abuse.
- 61% of women who were stalked by an intimate partner also indicated that they had experienced violence by a current or previous spouse or common-law partner in the last five years.
- Between 1994 and 2003, a history of family violence was present in 6 out of 10 spousal homicides.
- In both 1999 and 2004 (the years the General Social Survey were conducted), about 47% of female victims indicated that they had turned to a formal help agency because of the violence and abuse they experienced.
- Women under the age of 25 are more likely than those who are older to be victimized by their intimate partner.
- Between 1994 and 2003, females aged 15-24 had the highest rate of spousal homicide (22.5 per million female spouses), nearly 3 times the overall rate of spousal homicide for women during the same period (7.7 per million female spouses) and nearly 3 times the rate of males aged 15 to 24 (8.5 per million male spouses).
- Older women are more likely than their male counterparts to be victims of family violence. In 2003, almost 4 out of 10 senior female victims were assaulted by a family member. (see note 3)
- Older victims of family-related assaults most often experienced common assault (55%) followed by uttering threats (19%).
Abuse Faced by Aboriginal Women
- Aboriginal people are three times more likely to be victims of spousal violence than those who are non-Aboriginal (21% vs. 7%) (General Social Survey, 1999 and 2004).
- A larger proportion of Aboriginal women (37%) experienced emotional abuse from either a current or previous marital or common law partner in the 5-year period relative to non-Aboriginal women (17%).
- In one Ontario study, 8 out of 10 Aboriginal women had experienced violence in their relationships. Of these, 87% were physically injured and 57% were sexually abused. An estimated 75% to 95% of women in some northern Aboriginal communities have been physically abused. (Health Canada, 2005).
Abuse Faced by Immigrant and Refugee Women
- Woman abuse occurs in all societies and cultures. Refugee and non-status women in Canada are at high risk of experiencing violence because of the vulnerable position they live in:
- They have very limited access to information, counselling and other social services;
- They are reluctant to call the police in an emergency because they may fear being deported, as the police have authority to arrest or detain someone on behalf of Immigration Canada;
- If her partner is charged with assault, this could lead to devastating consequences for her; and
- They cannot easily access medical services. (METRAC, 2006).
- Actual reported victimization rates among immigrant and visible minority women in a 1999 Statistics Canada survey were somewhat lower than other women (10.5% of immigrant and visible minority women experienced emotional or financial abuse compared to 14% of other women; 4.2% cited physical or sexual abuse compared to 6.2% of other women. However, the survey was done in English and French and not representative of immigrant women who were not proficient in either language. (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2004)
Abuse During Pregnancy
- 1 in 6 pregnant women are abused during pregnancy (Middlesex-London Health Unit, 2000).
- Women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence, including being beaten up, choked, threatened with a gun/knife or sexually assaulted. (Health Canada, 2004).
- Of the women who were abused during pregnancy, approximately 18% reported that they had suffered a miscarriage or other internal injuries as a result of the abuse. (Health Canada, 2004.)
Costs to Society
- Women who have experienced violence were three times more likely to take time off from their every day activities.
- In 1995, the estimated annual health-related costs associated with violence against women were $1.5 billion (Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, 1995.)
- In 1995, the estimated costs of violence against women in four policy areas combined (social services/education, health/medicine, criminal justice and labour/employment) were estimated at more than $4.2 billion annually (Day, 1993).
For information on the health effects of woman abuse, visit the Peel Public Health website.
- The number 653,000 represents 7% of Canadian women aged 15 and older who experienced and reported spousal violence by a current or previous partner in the past 5 years. Source: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and the 2004 General Social Survey, p. 8.
- Figures do not add to 100% due to multiple responses. Source: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and the 2004 General Social Survey, p. 28.
- Older women are defined as women aged 65 years of age and older. Source: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and the 2004 General Social Survey, p. 86.
- Average day is defined as the Snapshot Day, April 14, 2004, a one-time profile of all programs and services in existence for a particular day. Source: Statistics Canada Transition Home Survey, 2004.
Source: Peel Committee Against Women Abuse